5 Things to Discover Argentina’s Diverse Attraction

10 10 2012
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sunday 23 September 2012

1. Sightseeing in Buenos Aires for free. As you land from the airport, take the Manuel Tienda León bus and they will give you a free tour of the city as they drop you off your hotel. You will be lucky if the driver will swing by Avenida Corrientes (Corrientes Avenue), the  major thoroughfare of the city. Then come back to Avenida Corrientes during the night and have a glimpse of the ‘street that never sleeps’ cultural and nightlife. You would see running theater plays and main shows with luminous marquees! Oh by the way, don’t expect the driver to act as your tourist guide since you only paid for the transportation!

2. Lobos Marinos (sea lion). If you are the National Geographic type person, go to Mar de Plata and see for yourself the enormous sea lion ever! You could see them right in front of the Atlantic Ocean coast line. 

3. Valleys and mountains. Enjoy the scenic San Luis and go to Cordoba to complete your mountain ranges “Sierras de Cordoba” fascination. Take photos of the estancias, fashion statement of the gauchos, and get awed by the grande grass-fed Argentian beef freely walking the valleys. (Now why I know why Argentian beef is soooooo good for the palate!!)

4. Faith reaffirmation.  Do your pilgrimage to the Capital of Faith (La Capital de la Fe) and honor the Virgin of Luján, the patron saint of Argentina.  Luján city is just 68 kilometers from Buenos Aires

5. Boat riding and water sports. Enjoy the sun in Tigre, 24-30 kilometers away from Buenos Aires. You could take the public boat or drive to reach the area then rent a boat so you could enjoy the secret of Tigre. Relax as you cruise the Delta. Have lunch in the riverside restaurant. (Good that Chiquilin knew what to order for me otherwise, heavy lunch would be a “BIG no no” when doing the cruise)

See the glass enclosed vacation home of former President Domingo Sarmiento. Most of all, have fun seeing the adrenalin rush of locals as they do some water sports (speed boat, water ski, wakeboard, paddle, kayak)!

 ADVENTURE PROMPT: Items 2 and 3 mentioned above needs a lot of flying here and there from Buenos Aires 
VISA REQUIREMENTS: Take note of visa requirements before booking your Argentina adventure! h

Money Blooper: THB and SGD are they the same?

22 10 2011
Sunday, 3 July 2011
Orchard, Singapore

When travelling, make sure you only keep the paper money of the country where you are (or USD/GBP whichever you find is conveniently exchanged).

I carry Giraffe, my Paul Smith since last year as a travelling wallet with a belief that it will give me luck any where I go. And for the past 11 months, all the left over paper money of the countries that I have visited were still inside. Part of the luck, so I thought.

I was rushing to Changi airport and didn’t notice I ran out of SGD. Of course the MRT machine only accepted the Singaporean man in spectacles and not the Thai man! It dawned at me that I was trying to use my THB instead of SGD on my second attempt to complete my Changi leg MRT card! And since there was no USD exchange in MRT booth, I ended up hailing a cab at Orchard from Marina Bay side and used my credit card.

Wisdom: I thought my learning was to arrange my wallet before travelling. Deeper than that was NOT to  depend on somebody who will give you a ride. Now I got flashback on how the door was shutting off on my face at Tiny’s . This was before I ended up mixing all my denominations inside the wallet I thought will bring me luck. h

Start the year right:HBO–Hike-Bike-Outreach

12 02 2011
Sunday, 30 January 2011
Butuan City-Camiguin Island,
Mindanao, Philippines

Crinkles got Trek, his gray mountain bike late last year. Out of excitement, he thought of going biking wherever I choose. I suggested biking on Camiguin island so I could go back and return the good deed I received from the family at the foot of Mt. Tres Marias.

The family way back in 2009 offered a raincoat and clothes to me as soon as they saw me got soaked in the rain. With short conversations while sipping the home made coffee that Manang Carmelita prepared for me, I felt the warmth of their home. We could hardly understand each other since I do not speak Visayan dialect nor they know Tagalog but I could not describe in words their hospitality.

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Preparation for HBO

To make the route more exciting, I got the map and looked for a place I have not been. I found Butuan to be just the right place to land from Manila. Without hesitation, Almond excitingly joined too and I booked the three of us via PAL last November.

Five days before the flight, Brodear got 3 boxes from Doc Sandy of Paulina’s in Cartimar Pasay. The 3 bikes: Trek, GT and Cham now have something to tuck in while on board PAL.

Brodear helped me out packed the 3 bikes and we headed off to the cargo after knowing that we will pay only half the price (if we will have excess baggage fee will be as high as 9K PHP, 180USD since we still have other goods for Outreach).


Our day hike to Camiguin Island’s Hibok-Hibok (1,332 meters above sea level) via Ardent Hot Spring totalled 5 hours. We started with a chicken breakfast inside the resort. Then we headed off to the foot of the mountain.

After bouldering the wet trail we reached the summit seeing 95% visibility. We still managed the chance for few snaps in bad weather though. On our descend, we had lunch at PNOC and soaked ourselves for 30 minutes in the 39 degrees hot spring before proceeding to our ‘side trip’, the White Sandbar right across the resort where we stayed.


Biking around Butuan city reached 13km only. This included our road biking to the local government unit, the bus station and our marketing at Gaisano Mall. Meanwhile, biking from Binoni port to Yumbing on Camiguin island was a gradual sloping 27km. Mind you, we had backpacks while on bike. I could still remember how the local halo-halo saved our day!


We had two low impact Outreach activities. One in Butuan City and another one on Camiguin island.

In Butuan city, Ms Lilit Mission-Concon of Tourism Office and her friendly team welcomed us. They advised us to go to the City Social Welfare Development (CSWD) Office for our goodies. Ms Asuncion L. Dalugdugan then received the clothes we handed over for the recent flood victims.

Manang Carmelita was teary eyed when Almond, Crinkles and I gave the goodies to them in Itom, Camiguin island. She thought we will just hike up Tres Marias and not to visit them. She offered coffee but we opted to leave so that they could save it for their next meal.


Better take PAL from Manila to Butuan city.  No hassle when checking in. Flight attendants are very courteous and will give you computations for price comparison if you want to avail of your baggage allowance or have it cargoed.

Once you landed, look for vans available since the airport is 15 minutes away from the main area of the city. Then take the Bachelor Tours to reach Balingoan port to reach Camiguin island. From there, you may choose the vessels called “roro” available. (There is an available roro every 30 minutes).


Hotel Karaga is the perfect place for bikers while in Butuan city. They have a special parking for your bikes! Thanks to the owners Mr Iwa and Mr Perkin who were very accommodating to the three of us! Mr Iwa even drove us to the bus station to ensure that we will be able to catch the schedule. Check out their website > > http://www.hotelkaraga.com

Meanwhile, you will have a homey stay at Sabacajan Beach and Cottages on Camiguin island. This family owned place is manned by Mommy Terry and her daughters. Give them an email and they will surely reserve a room for you (joebabess@yahoo.com).

Starting the year with HBO – hike, bike and outreach was all fun and adventure! h

ITINERARY (Hike-Bike-Outreach)

Day 1

1050 ETD Manila to Butuan via PAL

1220 ETA Butuan city

Check in Hotel Karaga

Assemble the bike

Bike around and go to the local government unit (LGU) to hand over the goods for the Outreach

Check the bus schedule bound to Balingoan port and the vessel that sails to Camiguin island

Have Dinner

Day 2

0600 ETD Butuan bus bound to Camiguin Benoni port. Make sure you are 15 minutes before the bus schedule since the bus leaves on time. We took the Bachelor Tours

0900 ETA Balingoan

1030 ETD Balingoan

1130 ETA Camiguin port

1200 Bike to Sabacajan

Have lunch along the way

1500 ETA Sabacajan Beach and Cottages, check in

1630 Go to Itom for Outreach

1800 Have Dinner

Day 3

0600 ETD to hike Hibok-Hibok

0630 Breakfast at Ardent Hot Spring

0730 Start of Trek

1230 End of Trek

1300 Hot Spring experience

1500 White Sandbar

1600 ETD Sabacajan Beach and Cottages to pack up things

1800 ETD Camiguin Benoni port

1900 ETD Balingoan port

2200 ETA Butuan city

2230 ETA Karaga Hotel

2300 Have Dinner

Day 4

1250 ETD Butuan city to Manila

1420 ETA Manila

BUDGET: 9K PHP (180 USD per fun biker/hiker for 3 pax with provisions for bike cargo cost airline-bus-vessel)

Edsa’s MRT

13 07 2010

10 July 2010, Quezon City

The principle on continuous quality improvement is never stop thinking and accepting new ideas. When you do, you will never go forward. With automation, nobody cares to stop finding what else to do. System or process level up is always there. Except perhaps the MRT line in the Philippines whereby the non-single journey card holders are still obliged to use the card once. The computer was programmed long time ago and could only accept one entry and one exit in a given time. Multiple entries and exits are not possible. So if you travel with your family or friends, they will end up in the long queue and you will wait for hours until your companions have finished buying a card for each of them. What  a waste of technology!

While they are all thinking if this is a agood idea, can the MRT executives decide to install vendo machines for MRT card?

Yellow Cab Taxi in Manila

2 07 2010
Monday, 28 June 2010
Manila, Philippines

The Yellow administration should look into these Yellow Cab operators from the Airport. They are not very welcoming. I have doubted them since the day they have started operation. But I do not have enough evidences to back up my possible complaint.

Upon arrival Monday wee hours in the morning, I started asking the Yellow Cab driver himself  as soon as I sat at the back passenger seat.  I did not receive any substantive information from the driver himself, of course. Otherwise, no job for him the next day. I asked other cab drivers on my way to work the same day. And voila! They have confirmed that the meters of these Yellow Cabs are indeed fast. They charge twice the ordinary fare of 2.50php. For every 20 seconds, they charge 4.00php. How could they do that when in fact they already have a fixed flag down rate of 70.00php from the regular 30.00php? This is the exact example of directly stealing from your fellowmen.

Back in 2005, I reached Singapore the first time and I was very impressed by the senior citizen cab driver who handed me the exact change up to the last cent after I have given my payment!

When will we ever learn how to give honest service to the people like the Singaporeans?

Bicol Express: Bus Riding to Bicol Region

17 04 2009
Friday, 26 December 2008
Bicol Region, Philippines

When you ride a bus, what do you consider most? Safety and quality of the bus or speed of the bus just to make sure that you will reach your destination in time?

One thing good in this country (amongst all other things), is that you get to choose what your priorities are. My boy friends and I opted to choose speed of the bus. Or shall I say, literally speaking “bicol express”. We aimed to catch the Ro-ro to Virac, Catanduanes early morning the following day.

From Pasay, we went to Tabaco on board the what we call, “happy bus”. Yes, we laughed ourselves out from Manila to the Bicol region hence our endearing name for the bus. Nothing else we could do, but to be happy anyway. Or else, our heart palpitation will speed up and we will all end up in a hospital!

At first we were hesitant to take the chance. We were supposed to take another bus line company. But all they could offfer was a monobloc seat in the isle. (Take note, the passenger should bring their own monobloc. We had to understand the situation due to busy season.) Then buco pie and oven, two of the three boy friends, found “happy bus”. All four of us got our own seat not onto the monobloc, mind you.

Since it was a 13-hr bus travel, bucopie, bought 3 pillows for us to share with. Ah, oven was very happy cuddling his pillow. We all thought we were ready for happy bus..


Then came a man selling trouser belts! Then another seller with her food and water stuff. Ahh,, it was a crazy scene.

After few more minutes of waiting inside the non-aircon “happy bus”, all we could see were baggages literally flying inside. They were loading the bags!

bag-handling1bag-handling2 Riders were shouting at the top of their heads asking if they could see their baggages at the back since they could no longer have visual from the front of the bus. That was how the logistics of “bag handling” was made. Finally, even the isle was full of bags! Whoa!
isle-full-of-bags But what amazed me most was when a passenger had to get off the bus, all other passengers will spontaneously help unload the baggages one by one. I did no longer see flying baggages. Instead, I saw baggages slowly being passed on to another passenger just to be able to reach the exit door of the bus. “Bayanihan” spirit, huh!

So did we reach the port and catch the Ro-ro? Was it really a “bicol express”? Yes, of course. Thanks to ‘happy bus” who gave us all one hell of a ride! hR1

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